An international under-15 soccer tournament that was slated to be the biggest sporting event the Cayman Islands ever hosted, has been postponed amid the continuing fallout from allegations of corruption within the sport’s world governing body.
The tournament, featuring 37 teams including Brazil and England, was scheduled to take place in the Cayman Islands in August, with some preliminary games to be played in Jamaica.
CONCACAF, the association responsible for football in Central America and the Caribbean, announced Sunday evening that the event had been postponed “until further notice.”
The tournament, first held in the Cayman Islands in 2013, was the brainchild of former CONCACAF president Jeff Webb. The original tournament featured 22 teams from the region and was hailed as a success for sports tourism, attracting an estimated 3,000 visitors to the island.
Webb was arrested in Switzerland on May 27 and has since been provisionally dismissed from his role as president of CONCACAF. The association’s vice-president Eduardo Li, of Costa Rica, who was arrested the same day as Webb, was also provisionally dismissed, while general secretary Enrique Sanz was placed on a “leave of absence.”
In a short release, which made no mention of the arrests, CONCACAF said its new acting executive committee had decided to postpone the tournament.
“In the short term, efforts will be dedicated in full to the successful delivery of the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup 2015, in addition to other championships which also qualify CONCACAF teams to worldwide-level tournaments, such as the men’s Olympic qualifying championship and the Under-20 women’s championship, to be played as scheduled later in 2015.
“CONCACAF is committed to restoring a full slate of complementary youth development tournaments in the shortest possible time. This includes our objective to re-schedule the under-15 boys’ championship at the soonest opportunity.”
The association declined to comment further on the tournament or if it would be hosted in the Cayman Islands once it is rescheduled.
Renard Moxam, director of Cayman’s national soccer teams said he was disappointed but understood the decision given the recent upheaval within CONCACAF.
“It is disappointing to the players firstly and to the coaching staff that have been preparing this group of young boys for the tournament. If I am honest I am not that surprised, given what has happened in the last week or 10 days.”
He said he hoped Cayman would be in a position to host future editions of the tournament.
Cayman Islands Football Association President Bruce Blake did not respond to calls from the Compass on Monday. Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell was unavailable to comment.
Speaking about the tournament in April, Webb said, “This is but one example of how we are using football to attract opportunities for our youth, and utilizing the power of the game to inspire a new generation.”